IDPs Shelter in Khanaqin’s Orphaned Church

December 26, 2017 at 3:44 pm

Diyala May 2017/ Bashara Church in Khanaqin houses displaced people for tens of years now

Hawre Azad

The only church in Khanaqin, which for tens of years now is housing displaced people, enforces Christians living in there to head to other places in Kurdistan Region at times of festivals and celebration as their sole choice.

Bashara church, that is located in Pasha Kopri neighborhood in Khanaqin, houses tens of poor Muslim families who have been living there since the 1980s.

Maria Mikhael who is a Christian woman of 57 years living in Khanaqin told Kirkuk Now that before the migration of most of the Christians a total of 50 families gathered in the church to celebrate Christian celebrations and festivals like: Easter and marriage ceremonies.

Diyala May, 2017/ Christians want the church of Khanaqin either to be renovated or turned into a museum. Photo: Hawre Azad

Now, some families that are still living in Khanaqin are obliged to go to other parts of Kurdistan Region when there are celebrations and certain ceremonies related to Christians.

“because of the lack of a church in Khanaqin, Christians at times of religious celebrations and ceremonies visit other parts of Kurdistan Region that have churches so they would participate in feasts and celebrations, like Easter and Christmas” Maria said.

Khanaqin sub-district is part of Diyala province and one of the disputed areas in between the Iraqi government and Kurdistan Region according to article 140 of the constitution, and its residents are consisting of Arabs, Kurds, and Christians.

Those families who are living in the church have been living there for he past 30 years like displaced, and are ready to leave the place if the government helped them.

Diyala mAy 2017/ Bashara Church in Khanaqin was officially opened in 1950

Shirwan Rifa’t, a man living in the church, told Kirkuk Now “I ask the government to help me to buy a house or built one so I leave the church because I financially incapable to do so.”

Added to that, Bashara church has a religious history of its own; the Christians of Khanaqin are supporting transforming the church to a museum or culture centre after the displaced people leave it.

Maria Mikhael said “we hope the church would be turned to a culture centre so that artists and intellectuals in Khanaqin get benefit to arrange events, and to preserve the history of our town.”

The Christians have visited Khanaqin officials in efforts to evacuate the church, but all were futile as Marian mentioned.

This comes at time when officials at Khanaqin warned if any side would not make themselves responsible for the church after its evacuated, this means the loss of the church.

Samir Mohammad Noor, the head of Khanaqin City Council said to Kirkuk Now “any party who would come officially and tells us that they are the ones responsible for the church we would provide our support and make things easier since we deem that Bashara church is a noticeable site of Khanaqin to be protected.”

He also referred of any of these families were taken out of the church without any side taking responsibility of it, this would lead to the loss of the church and would be empty.”

Bashara church, is 430 square meters in the middle of Khanaqin sub-district its building process started in 1948 and in 1950 it was formally opened.

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